Just starting my business - Asked for a sample translation before having signed a contract?
Thread poster: Juliane Richter

Juliane Richter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:21
English to German
+ ...
Jun 7, 2012

Hello,

maybe my question sounds a bit silly, but I am just starting my translation business after having worked for one regular client before.

Yesterday I received an email with a job offer from India.

The person, representing an IT company, offered me to work on a translation project from English into German.

The first thing he asked for, without speaking about contract and money matters in his email, was to do a sample translation of 270 words for him.

I wonder, that many phrases and words of the sample text are just repeated again and again.

I do not want to do an unpaid job for a scammer.

My email to him, asking to discuss money and contract matters beforehand, is still not answered.

Is it usual that companies ask for those sample translations before being clear about money and contract matters?

I would be happy to get the advice of some experienced colleagues.

Thanks,
Juliane


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Marco Ramón  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:21
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Test translation is common Jun 7, 2012

Hi Juliane,

A test translation of around 300 words is not strange in the industry. Yes, even before a contract or other considerations come into play.


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xxxchristela
Yes Jun 7, 2012

Of course nobody will sign contracts with freelance translators if the tests are crap! They don't know you. A 200-300 word test is reasonable, although some translators don't do tests anymore.

There are two problems here: 1) it could be a free translation. This is a certainly a risk, but without taking risks you'll have nothing. And 2) that you discover, after tests and signing a contract, that the company is only willing to pay low prices.

Therefore, be commercial and deliver each test with an indication of your prices for this kind of work. If they don't react, this means either that they are badly organized, either that you aren't cheap enough.


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Unedited since 1 working day

Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
As Marco said Jun 7, 2012

Most companies require translation a translation test before they start working with you, some companies will pay for this test, some other won't.
However, I have made it a rule not to take on any tests until the company has agreed to my rates, because theres been too many times when they asked me to lower my rates after the test and that just won't do for me.

If the company you mention if from India, I would advise on making sure they accept your rates because company from that area tend to offer a very low pay!


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Sian Cooper  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:21
French to English
+ ...
Tests are normal but this sounds strange Jun 7, 2012

Hello, Juliane. I'm new to this world too, but a couple of things really worry me about what you tell us.

Firstly, you say the apparent agency contacted you: since you are a new translator, that sounds most unusual, unless it is a spammer. Normally you need to be going out to agencies to get them interested! (well, I certainly am...)

Secondly, you say that the test text includes the same things repeated again and again. That sounds completely wrong, and I strongly advise you either to ignore this person, or to be at the least very careful in your contact with them. Don't do the test before discussing business terms etc., as the other members advise, and don't don't don't give out any information about yourself, bank details etc.!

Good luck


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:21
Member (2008)
French to English
Know who you are dealing with Jun 8, 2012

We can't overemphasize the importance of knowing who you are dealing with. Is the company listed on the BlueBoard here or other similar sites? Do your due diligence first to determine if the client is a legitimate business.

If you can determine that the company is a legitimate company, a request to do a 200-300 word test is not unusual. IT jobs also often have a lot of repeats, so that in itself is also not unusual.

It's not at all uncommon for a client to ask for a test before discussing price, but on the other hand you should tell them your fees first. Especially with a client in India, there's a possibility that you are in completely different ballparks. It's quite possible that once they hear your fee they may lose interest. If you are needing work you can leave the door open for negotiation, but don't sell yourself too cheaply.

[Edited at 2012-06-08 10:41 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:21
English to German
+ ...
acting in a professional manner Jun 8, 2012

is also a must for a client.


JulianeRichter wrote:
Hello,

maybe my question sounds a bit silly, but I am just starting my translation business after having worked for one regular client before.


If you did a good job, your one regular client will give you a good reference.
(I don't do test translations anymore, I give references and samples on my website. Not worth the hassle.)

JulianeRichter wrote:
Yesterday I received an email with a job offer from India.
The person, representing an IT company, offered me to work on a translation project from English into German.


Job offer from India + English > German = (most often) unacceptable rates for any translator. Companies from India expect you to work for cheap.

JulianeRichter wrote:
The first thing he asked for, without speaking about contract and money matters in his email, was to do a sample translation of 270 words for him.


How can the "company" determine how good or bad your test translation is? Do they have a professional English>German translator/expert working for them? Translation agencies are more likely to ask for test translations.

JulianeRichter wrote:
I wonder, that many phrases and words of the sample text are just repeated again and again.

Not sure what you mean here.

JulianeRichter wrote:
I do not want to do an unpaid job for a scammer.


You don't want to do an unpaid test for anybody. What if you don't get the project?
Will you just tell yourself that you gained experience for free?!

JulianeRichter wrote:
My email to him, asking to discuss money and contract matters beforehand, is still not answered.


No professional business will just simply stop communicating with you. How long have they been "silent"?

JulianeRichter wrote:
Is it usual that companies ask for those sample translations before being clear about money and contract matters?


No. Not professional companies.

If they are not mentioning any compensation for the sample translation, they don't intend to pay for it.
No professional business will expect you to work WITH them (and not FOR them) before an agreement in writing (order contract/purchase order with all terms spelled out in detail) has been established that is acceptable to you = at professional standards.
Even tests need to be subject to YOUR terms and conditions.

They contact you because they think you will accept anything they ask you to do because you are realatively new in the business.

That's all just plain ridiculous. You are obviously highly educated, have worked in this language combination before and certainly have a good reference.
Just as every other professional translator, you will have to provide a quality service (you're not going to give them a bad translation - your reputation is on the line every day). But you shouldn't work for such people. The next thing you will hear is that your translation was bad and that they will not pay you for it.

And, they are located in India. Far away.
By stipulating YOUR terms you show them that they are the client and you are not a laborer who's looking for a cheap job.
Especially today, you have to stick to your guns, otherwise you will be disillusioned and tired, and your business quickly ruined.
There are good clients out there. Concentrate on finding them and letting them find you.
Is it easy? Not at all. In your case, maybe think local first (Paris).

B

[Edited at 2012-06-08 06:10 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Leisurely paced or fast paced? And... Jun 8, 2012

JulianeRichter wrote:
The first thing he asked for, without speaking about contract and money matters in his email, was to do a sample translation of 270 words for him. ... My email to him, asking to discuss money and contract matters beforehand, is still not answered.


Some translation clients have all the time in the world to chit-chat with you about various matters, whereas others are always in a great hurry and appreciate quick, efficient responses during the initial stages of client-translator courtship. If you don't want to deal with the hurried ones, then that is your decision, but know that for some clients time is truly tight, so they zoom in on the most relevant questions without preamble.

As the others have said here, a small unpaid test translation is neither common nor rare, though it is not uncommon, and should not be used as a flag for detecting scams. Roughly 300-400 words is a common size for such tests.

If you want this job, then indicate to the client clearly that you are willing to do the test. Also ask the client if he accepts your rate and your payment terms. As a general rule, do not do the test until the client has confirmed that he accepts your rate, but at the same time try to keep the client interested by declaring your willingness to do the test translation right from the start.

Some clients will not want to discuss your rate until after you've done the test -- that is not dishonesty but simply either haste or circumspection. Decide for yourself if you would do tests without having had your rate confirmed. The fact that they will discuss rates later is not an indication that the rates are negotiable, though -- the client often has a fixed rate in mind already (and if your client is Indian, the rate will be low by EU standards).

Also, do not expect feedback, unless you ask for it beforehand and it was agreed to by the client. Some clients will have your test translation checked only when the first job arrives (which may be months away), whereas other clients have no interest in the test and it is simply a requirement of their clients (in which case you'll practically never get any feedback or have the opportunity to defend your translation). Some clients get test translations checked in detail, whereas others simply ask one of their existing translators to give your test a "yes" or a "no".


[Edited at 2012-06-08 07:18 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:21
English to German
+ ...
A hint about repeated phrases in translation tests Jun 8, 2012

JulianeRichter wrote:
I wonder, that many phrases and words of the sample text are just repeated again and again.


You said that the outsourcer represents an IT company. You didn't mention if the text itself was a technical text.

My point, based on experience and the psychology behind such tests:

If you can manage to translate repetitive text in varying phrases and make the text sound exciting without changing any information, then you are a good translator. If you feel compelled to sheepishly translate identical or similar phrases in the same words over and over, then you are nothing but a factory worker and a human CAT tool. That's the hidden intention of this kind of tests, and they were created this way for a reason.

There is also nothing wrong with contacting young translators, as there are many of new talents out there. Unfortunately, this is often done to achieve fine quality at cheap rates.


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Juliane Richter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:21
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Bad reputation Jun 8, 2012

Thank you very much for all your very helpful comments and valuable advices.

I finally decided not to deal with the company, since I found out, after a search, that they have a very bad reputation, because they didn't pay translators at all or only after months.

I think, I don't need those troubles right at the start.

Kind regards,

Juliane


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:21
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
and my 2cts Jun 8, 2012

What I suggest is to do paid tests and discount the amount on the first invoice (but then again, I have lots of experience, so this may not work for you)

Also see if you can find out where this test is from, if it 's from an existing piece of software that has been out for some time already it is probably a legit test.

I'm not too sure about the repeats and making different translations for them, normally a software or technical company wants pretty straightforward translations without any variations, so you should check with them first to see what they want.

Tests up to 300 words are pretty normal and accepted in the business, even without signing anything. But do check if they can afford your rates before you start anything.

Ed


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